Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise

Artist:
Giovanni di Paolo (Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia) (Italian, Siena 1398–1482 Siena)
Date:
1445
Medium:
Tempera and gold on wood
Dimensions:
18 1/4 x 20 1/2 in. (46.4 x 52.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.31
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 956
This masterpiece of Sienese painting combines Giovanni di Paolo’s exquisite visionary effects and narrative detail. The picture presents a vision of Paradise reminiscent of that described by the great Florentine poet Dante in "The Divine Comedy." The universe is shown as a celestial globe, with the earth at the center surrounded by a series of concentric circles representing first the four elements, the known planets (including the sun, in accordance with medieval and Renaissance cosmology), and finally the constellations of the zodiac. Presiding over the scene of Creation is God the Father, bathed in a glowing celestial light as he is borne aloft by seraphim. Beside the "mappamondo" (map of the world) is the garden of Paradise, its four rivers issuing from the ground at the lower right. The garden's effulgent flora symbolize the pure and sinless state of man before the Fall. A diminutive Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden by a lithe angel whose unusual nakedness and human form may symbolize his deep compassion for the corrupted state of humankind after the fall from grace.
This panel was originally part of the predella (the lowermost horizontal component) of Giovanni di Paolo's "Guelfi Altarpiece," formerly in the Church of San Domenico in Siena (now Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence). It originally joined a representation of Paradise, now in the Metropolitan Museum (06.1046). For a reconstruction of the altarpiece, see http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/436512?rpp=30&pg=1&ft=giovanni+di+paolo&pos=1 (additional images).
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Albin Chalandon, Paris; Georges Chalandon, Paris; Camille Benoît, Paris (see M. Logan, "L'exposition de l'ancien art siennois," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, ser. 3, vol. 32, 1904, pp. 210-11; Crowe and Cavalcaselle, New History, vol. 3 1914, p. 178); F. Kleinberger, Paris; acquired by Philip Lehman in January 1917
Isidoro Ugurgieri Azzolini. Le pompe sanesi, o vero relazione delli huomini e donne illustri di Siena, e suo stato. Vol. 2, Sanesi pittori, scultori, architetti, ed altri artefici famosi. Pistoia, 1649, p. 346.

Guglielmo Della Valle. Lettere sansei di un socio dell'Accademia di Fossano sopra le belle arti. Vol. 3, Venice, 1789, p. 50.

Corrado Ricci. Il Palazzo Pubblico di Siena e la mostra d'antica arte senese. Bergamo, 1904, no. 10.

F. Mason-Perkins. "La pittura alla mostra d'arte antica in Siena." Rassegna d'arte, 4 (October 1904), pp. 149-150.

F. Mason Perkins. "The Sienese Exhibition of Ancient Art." Burlington Magazine, 5 (September 1904), p. 583.

André Pératé. "Les expositions d'art siennois à Sienne & à Londres." Les arts, no. 33 (September 1904), p. 16.

Mary Logan. "L'exposition de l'ancien art siennois." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 32 (1904), pp. 210-211.

Emil Jacobsen. Das Quattrocento in Siena: Studien in der Gemäldegalerie der Akademie. Strasbourg, 1908, pp. 44, 48, pl. 26.1.

Bernhard Berenson. The Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance. 2nd ed., rev. and enl. New York, 1909, p. 178.

[Joseph Archer] Crowe and [Giovanni Battista] Cavalcaselle. A New History of Painting in Italy from the II to the XVI Century. Ed. Edward Hutton. Vol. 3, The Florentine, Umbrian, and Sienese Schools of the XV Century. London, 1909, p. 127 n. 2.

J[oseph]. A[rcher]. Crowe and G[iovanni]. B[attista]. Cavalcaselle. A History of Painting in Italy: Umbria, Florence and Siena from the Second to the Sixteenth Century. Ed. Tancred Borenius. Vol. 5, Umbrian and Sienese Masters of the Fifteenth Century. London, 1914, p. 178.

Fabio Bargagli Petrucci. "Il Mappamondo di Ambrogio Lorenzetti del Palazzo Pubblico di Siena." Rassegna d'arte senese, 10 (1914), pp. 8-9, fig. 2.

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Robert Lehman. The Philip Lehman Collection, New York: Paintings. Paris, 1928, Pl. 47 .

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Robert Langton Douglas. "Review of Pope-Hennessy 1937." Burlington Magazine, 72 (1938), pp. 43-45.

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Theodore Allen Heinrich. "The Lehman Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 12 (April 1954), p. 218.

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Charles Sterling. "Exposition de l'Orangerie: La collection Lehman." La Revue des Arts, 3 (1957), p. 134, fig. 1.

Lázló Baránsky-Jób. "The Problems and Meaning of Giovanni di Paolo's Expulsion from Paradise." Marsyas, 8 (1957–1959), pp. 1-6. Fig. 1.

John Pope-Hennessy. "Sassetta and Giovanni di Paolo." Art News Annual, 27 (1959), pp. 152-153.

The Lehman Collection. Exh. cat., Cincinnati, 1959, no. 32.

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Ms. Kay Larson. "Magical Mystery Tour ." New York Magazine (1989), pp. 56-57.

Kristen Lippincott. "Giovanni di Paolo’s ‘Creation of the World’ and the tradition of the ‘Thema Mundi’ in late Medieval and Renaissance art." The Burlington Magazine, 132 (1990), pp. 460-468, figs. 1, 2.

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